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Music in the Classroom

October 12, 1986

I am writing to express my concern regarding budget cuts affecting the music program at the early levels of elementary school in the Saddleback Valley Unified School District. It is apparent that eliminating general music at this level would attract less public outcry than cuts at higher levels. However, there is no question that these cuts will continue to affect the music education of the children throughout their school life.

If children are not exposed to music at an early age, to enjoy it, appreciate it, understand the rudiments of rhythm and melody, and to give it a place in their lives, the likelihood of their participating in music as they grow older is greatly decreased. As a private music teacher (piano) in Mission Viejo, I am aware that parents in this community place the music education of their children at a very high level of priority. But they are competing with a school district that equates this training with landscape maintenance as a "frill" that can be eliminated.

It is well documented that music training enhances other educational experiences. A study done last year of music students at Mission Viejo High School showed a higher-than-average grade point and lower-than-average absenteeism. Surely there is something worth saving in this program!

Not everyone will be a great musician. Not everyone will want to play in a band or sing in a choir. But the lives of each student in this district can be enhanced by music study. At a time when Orange County has just become home to a world-class arts facility, it is astonishing that one of the bellwether districts in the county would even consider cutting the music program.

JUDY JENKINS

Mission Viejo

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